A sizeable minority of Catalans has wanted independence from Spain for a long time, but during the economic crisis, the momentum for secession has grown. On November 9, 2014, the government of Catalonia plans to hold a non-binding consultation of the public on whether or not to leave Spain and become an independent state. The Spanish national government strongly opposes the consultation.
The push for Catalan independence is the most significant story for Spain in 2014, with major implications for the country’s economic recovery and foreign policy as well as for the cohesion and stability of the European Union and the Eurozone. As David Gardner has written in the Financial Times (paywalled), “A fullblown constitutional crisis, in which the survival of the Spanish nationstate within its present boundaries is at stake, will now collide head on with the eurozone and fiscal crises.”
In correspondence via email with Venture Spain, Edward Hugh, an economist based in Barcelona and the author of Is the Euro Crisis Really Over?, said that the consultation “is much more important than most people are contemplating, whichever way it goes.” He also pointed out that “the issue behind the vote is now no longer simply ‘a right to decide,’ but rather a clear expression of support for independence… and so [Spanish Prime Minister] Rajoy’s policy of ignoring it, if this finally prevails, may well boomerang.”
Unfortunately, despite the importance of the issue, the coverage in the English language press is often one-sided or confusing – muddled might be a better word – especially for outside observers just tuning in to the issue.
To clarify what’s happening in Catalonia, Venture Spain presents – and answers – five questions on Catalonia’s independence consultation: